There has been much discussion on Tony Abbots recent announcement to reduce the paid parental leave threshold down to earnings of $100k or less. This scheme is designed to encourage women in the work place who have had or are having babies back into the work place post maternal leave.
The levy is to be partly funded by a 1.5% levy on large companies who I have no doubt will pass this onto their consumers so in fact in some way we all end up paying for the PPL leave scheme.Abbot took this policy to his 2010 elections, in fact announcing it at an Internal Women’s Day Event, one of his arguments is that if we get paid when we are on holidays or on sick leave then why should we not get paid when we are on maternity leave. Large businesses however do not get levied for all employees taking sick or holiday leave.
I am a cynic when it comes to Abbott and his policies and one could suggest that he has taken this policy on board and continues to push it to “buy” the female vote as such.My questions around PPL are is the economy strong enough to sustain it when unemployment is on the rise and the government is proposing a deficit levy on those earning more than $80k per year to balance the budget.
It is important to note that in Australia only 2% of women earning more than $100K are actually of child bearing age.There is however a fundamental issue that this government is not addressing and that is the cost of child care and the ongoing shortage of child care places.
As a mum who opted to stay at home one of the issues I faced, and what many mums do, was not that I didn’t want to return to work or that I was financially in strife if I stayed at home, it was more around the fact that by choosing to go back to work I was going to place an additional strain on the income that I earned due to child care costs.So my options were not to return, return part time or return full time knowing that I was in fact not going to be bringing home the level of income I should due to the exorbitant cost of child care.
I believe that the cost of child care in Australia is the key inhibiter of why women don’t return to the workforce.And in fact those that do often rely on grandparents, partner, nannies to help with their childcare needs – I did.
Perhaps instead of a PPL scheme the government should be considering investment in childcare rebates. Why not make the cost of child care a tax deduction for the woman returning to work earning under $150,000.I believe if the reason for PPL is to increase female participation back into to the work force post children then the missing piece is child care. Most women I believe will choose to stay at home or return part time due to the cost of or the unavailability of affordable child care something that the PPL in its current form does not address.